DishNetwork and the PVR


More Rants and Raves

December 2003 - This isn't a big rant. I'm just disappointed. Last week the $29 special from DishNetwork caught her eye. I guess that was the right price point. We now have one installed. Since it didn't cost much more, she also got the Personal Video Recorder (PVR) model. This is a TiVo - ReplayTV like device that records TV shows onto an internal hard disk.

Being an aficionado of the PVR world I have extensive ReplayTV experience and I have looked at TiVo's quite a bit too. The DishNetwork PVR is lame. Another way to put it: sub-standard.

I am writing this web page to let others know of my experience. Personally, I do not recommend the DishNetwork PVR. If you really want a PVR (and you should, they are fantastic) then buy a TiVo. Better yet, buy a DSS satellite system that comes with an embedded TiVo. Just don't waste any money on the DishNetwork PVR. 

What's wrong with it?

  1. Compared to TiVo and ReplayTV, the user interface is harder to use. It is not nearly as nice as the others. You will find yourself wondering what to do next.
  2. It does not allow you to "follow" a show. The others allow you to record the same show each week. If it moves time slots TiVo and ReplayTV will follow it. DishNetwork will follow it if you are recording it once, but not if you are recording it every week. What? Must be a patent thing.
  3. Compared to TiVo and ReplayTV, it looks like a smart high school student created the user interface. This is not nearly as important as 1&2 above, but how could a big company put out such an ugly, unimaginative interface? Did someone at HP design it for them? Come on.

Did they do anything right? Yes. I like the ability to browse the programming guide for other channels while watching one and then jump to it when I want to. The built in list to browse just what is subscribed to is very nice. Building individual browse lists is good, but why not have a "select all" choice? It would also be good to display station information when hovering on a station in the building browse list actions; I had to go back and forth a lot to figure out if a particular station was one to keep (almost anything) or one to ignore (home shopping and religion).

So, if you have no other choice, this is better than nothing. However, I have to recommend DSS and TiVo to the discriminating consumer.


Jim Schrempp is a sometimes freelance writer (only Vanity Press will publish his work) living in Saratoga, California. His writings have appeared on numerous pages on his own web site. The opinions expressed in this piece are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of anyone else (although Jim wishes more people shared his opinions)